CHICAGO (CBS) — A couple of hundred patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital had a little brighter day Wednesday after being greeted by Mrs. Claus as she delivered thousands of toys and other gifts.
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Sue Staehely continues to carry on the tradition begun by her son, Mark, who was a patient at the old Children’s Memorial Hospital before dying six years ago at the age of 18.
Mark Staehely started the annual toy drive in 2000 when he was just 12 years old. It was the year he was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma.
“He was so worried about all the other kids,” Staehely said.
Sue Staehely said her son made her promise to continue the toy drive once he was gone, and she has.
“Folks are just so wonderful and so generous, and believe me, every year I’m amazed.”
Parent Edward Rivera’s voice choked with emotion when he said how “really appreciative” he was “just to see my daughter happy like that.”
Lilliana Rivera, 17, is being treated for a rare muscle weakening disease, and her face brightened when Staehely delivered her large gift bag.
“I’ve been wanting a watch really bad, and I got a watch so I was really happy. It’s been awesome today,” she said.
Dr. Stewart Goldman of Lurie Children’s said, “It’s hard for words to describe what this does and what it means to us to know that people care.”